On March 28, two Seattle Children’s providers and two community-based providers were honored as 2019 recipients of the Richard A. Molteni Award for Professionalism and Quality and the Elizabeth Thomas Award for Advanced Practice Providers. Winners included Dr. Sheryl Morelli, Dr. Cora Breuner, Susie Paeth, ARNP, and Megan Spangler, ARNP.

Molteni Award recipients exemplify compassionate, equitable care

She’s been called a role model, patient advocate, friend, teacher and even local celebrity by her colleagues. Now, she’s also called a 2019 Molteni Award recipient.

She’s Dr. Cora Breuner, a colorful and compassionate physician with Adolescent Medicine and Orthopedics and Sports Medicine who is known among her peers for being an outstanding healer with a can-do attitude.

“Cora always puts patients first and will do whatever it takes to help them,” says Dr. Ellen Passloff, a physician at The Everett Clinic. “She treats all of her patients with incredible dignity and respect.”

Since joining Children’s in 2000, Cora has become a decorated physician known for her expertise in eating disorder management, biofeedback, and orthopedics and sports medicine.

She also has a flair for teaching — sharing her knowledge as a professor of adolescent medicine at the University of Washington; chairing a committee on adolescent medicine for the American Academy of Pediatrics; and being an adviser and mentor of Children’s pediatric residents, fellows and faculty members.

As chair of Children’s Work Life Balance Committee and leader of a monthly mindfulness and meditation session for pediatric residents, Cora also works hard to ensure that she and her fellow physicians live their healthiest lives.

“I wake up anticipating joy and gratitude, and go to bed content and fulfilled,” she says. “And if I veer off course, I practice self-forgiveness.”

Cora says that being in the company of great healers who received a Molteni Award before her makes her feel honored, humbled and inspired. Sharing one of her favorite quotes by Maya Angelou, Cora encourages others to also strive for greatness:

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

For Dr. Sheryl Morelli, chief medical officer of Seattle Children’s Care Network (SCCN), caring for others is in her blood. The daughter of a nurse and ophthalmologist, Sheryl says her love of service through healthcare was born from the example of integrity, dedication and humility set forth by her parents.

“My earliest memories are of joining my parents at my father’s ophthalmology practice,” she says. “I loved playing with all the medical equipment and pretending to be a doctor.”

Today, Sheryl does more than just pretend — much more. In addition to her role in SCCN, she’s also section chief of Community Pediatrics, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington (UW) and a member of numerous committees and workgroups both locally and nationally. She even finds time to see patients at the UW Neighborhood Clinic in Kent/Des Moines.

“My favorite part of all my roles is the opportunity to care for my patients and families,” Sheryl says. “I serve an incredibly diverse patient population in South King County that brings joy to my work every week.”

Sheryl says that receiving the 2019 Molteni Award is a reflection of the passion and commitment she has for providing equitable care — improving and transforming pediatric healthcare to ensure all children in our communities can live up to their full potential.

“There are so many incredibly talented and dedicated pediatricians in our communities,” she says. “It is truly an honor to receive this award from my colleagues.”

Elizabeth Thomas Award recipients achieve new solutions

Susan Paeth, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Virginia Mason’s Sand Point Pediatrics Clinic, has a reputation among her colleagues for thorough, compassionate care that empowers her patients and their families to feel confident in times of both illness and wellness.

As a 2019 Elizabeth Thomas Award recipient, Susan — better known as “Susie” — exemplifies the dedication to patient care that Elizabeth brought to Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC). Susie even completed her ARNP practicum at OBCC and has been associated with Children’s for more than 37 years.

From 1987 to 2000, Susie was an inpatient pediatric pulmonary clinical nurse specialist at Children’s — then known as Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center. During her tenure at Children’s, Susie provided focused expertise in pediatric pulmonary medicine and led the development of the first clinical pathways for bronchiolitis and asthma.

Susie’s innovative work continued at Virginia Mason, where she brought together a task force of healthcare providers and state and county representatives in the Division of Developmental Disabilities to develop guidelines for the provision of home care for the Medically Intensive Program within the Washington Medicaid system — guidelines that continue to influence care today.

“Susie’s commitment to advancing the profession and quality of care through education and empowering others has consistently extended beyond healthcare team members to families and community members — ensuring kids have the best possible chance of a healthy life,” says Dr. Donna Smith, a physician at Virginia Mason.

Susie says she feels honored to receive the Elizabeth Thomas Award and is grateful for all the guidance and support she has received from Children’s throughout the years.

“It has been really important to me and my professional development to see excellence in action at Children’s,” she says. “Learning and working here molded me into who I am today.”

Megan Spangler, ARNP supervisor in the Emergency Department (ED) and now a 2019 Elizabeth Thomas Award recipient, loves working at Children’s because of the resiliency and spunk her patients have.

“One of my favorite patients was a 3-year-old who had put hardboiled egg white in his nose,” Megan recalls. “When asked why, he said he was trying to make boogers. I still love his creativity.”

Because unique children with equally unique needs arrive in the ED every day, Megan uses her problem-solving skills to ensure each child receives the care they require — both clinically and administratively.

In the past year, Megan has led work to improve communication between ED staff and patients and families — from developing a proposal to recruiting physicians and nurses, to creating a comprehensive improvement plan and incorporating the principles from CUMG’s CONNECT program.

It’s this dedication to excellence, coupled with the ingenuity of innovation, that helps Megan deliver exceptional care to our patients and families.

“Megan is a model of efficiency balanced with empathy,” says Dr. Russ Migita, clinical director, Emergency Department. “She transformed the role of nurse practitioners in the ED, and in doing so has made us all better.”

Megan says that while she feels privileged to receive the Elizabeth Thomas Award, serving patients and families is what makes her job worthwhile.

“It is an honor to receive the award, but it is also an honor when parents place their kids in our hands every day,” she says. “Most people don’t want to come to the ED, and I appreciate that these parents trust us. That is the real value in our work.”

— Jennifer Carson